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Henry Ford Hospital Medical Journal

Abstract

Two serum calcitonin assays with sensitivities ≤ 10 pg/mL were compared to our standard radioimmunoassay (sensitivity 100 pg/mL) in multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A (MEN 2A) screening. Values from the Nichols displacement radioimmunoassay averaged 38% higher than values from the CIS immunoradiometric assay; values from both were highly correlated, r = 0.845. In three individuals, both of the newer assays revealed abnormalities in pentagastrin tests three to four years before abnormalities were detected by the standard assay. Pentagastrin tests after total thyroidectomy were assayed by the newer methods in patients with medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) diagnosed at initial testing (group I); in patients with early MTC diagnosed by prospective screening (group ll); and in patients with pure C-cell hyperplasia detected by prospective screening (group III). At least 64% of group I, at least 25% of group II, but none of group III had detectable postoperative C-cell function. Conclusions: 1) The previous estimate of 12 years as median age of onset of C-cell disease in MEN 2A is probably three to four years too old. 2) Patients diagnosed with early MTC by screening had not necessarily skipped a preneoplastic phase of C-cell hyperplasia. At least some early disease was not detected by the standard assay. Higher sensitivity assays should improve screening for C-cell disease by earlier disease detection. 3) Biochemical cure by thyroidectomy after the development of MTC is not as frequent as previously thought, but the apparent cure rate of pure C-cell hyperplasia remains 100%.

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